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Table 3 Intrahepatic animal stem cell tracking studies with reporter genes

From: Noninvasive in-vivo tracing and imaging of transplanted stem cells for liver regeneration


Species (n)

Animal model

Cell type

Reporter genes

Reporter probe

Delivery/number of cells infused


Duan et al., 2007 [45]

Mice (12)

NOD-SCID model

Xenogeneic EPCs



Directly intrahepatic into parenchyma/105

Detection of luminescent stem cells for at least 1 week

Boeykens et al., 2013 [46]

Rats (13)

PHx of MCD-induced steatotic liver model

Allogeneic BMSCs



Portal vein and tail vein/106

Detection of luminescent stem cells for 24 hours

Intraportal cell injection was superior to intravenous cell injection for homing capacity

Di Rocco et al., 2012 [48]

Mice (32)

CCl4-induced ALF model

Autologous AD-MSCs



Intrasplenic injection/105

Luciferase-positive cells were visible for 2 months

Labeled cells exhibited a hepatocyte-like morphology and AFP expression was detected at injured sites

Li et al., 2009 [49]

Mice (unknown)

CCl4-induced liver cirrhosis model

Allogeneic BMSCs



Tail vein/106

Labeled cells were detected for up to 6 weeks

The presence of double-positive cells for EGFP and α-SMA in the fibrous liver demonstrated the homing ability of BMSCs to damaged tissue and differentiation potential into myofibroblasts

Song et al., 2004 [51]

Mice (unknown)

PHx-induced liver injury model

Autologous LPCs



Intrasplenic injection/106

GFP-positive cells could be visualized for up to 18 weeks, and accounted for 40–50 % of regenerative hepatocytes

Knoop et al., 2011 [52]

Mice (47)

Huh7-induced HCC model

Xenogeneic BMSCs


123I (γ-camera) 124I (PET)

Tail vein/105

NIS-MSC mediated concentration of iodine radioisotopes was detected in 74 % of tumors with a half-life period of 4 hours

124I as reporter probe for PET imaging provided better resolution and sensitivity

Knoop et al., 2013 [53]

Mice (57)

Huh7-induced HCC model

Xenogeneic BMSCs


131I (γ-camera)

Tail vein/105

NIS-MSC mediated concentration of radioisotopes was detected in 67 % of tumors with a half-life period of 3.7 hours

Kanazawa et al., 2011 [54]

Rats (24)

I/R injury model

Allogeneic BMSCs

LacZ Luc

X-gal (microscope) (BLI)

Portal vein/106

BLI and histological findings showed that injected stem cells survived in the remnant liver for up to 168 hours

LacZ-positive stem cells were mainly located around the periportal regions

  1. NOD-SCID nonobese diabetic–severe combined immunodeficiency disease, EPC endothelial progenitor cell, Luc luciferase, BLI bioluminescence imaging, PHx partial hepatectomy, MCD methionine/choline-deficient, BMSC bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cell, CCl4 carbon tetrachloride, ALF acute liver failure, AD-MSC adipose-derived mesenchymal cell, Fluc firefly luciferase, AFP alpha fetal protein, EGFP enhanced green fluorescent protein, FLI fluorescence imaging, α-SMA alpha smooth muscle actin, LPC liver progenitor cell, GFP green fluorescent protein, HCC hepatic cellular cancer, NIS sodium iodide symporter, PET positron emission tomography, I/R ischemia–reperfusion, LacZ galactosidase genes